Volume 11, Issue 4, Winter 2011
Mark F. Repenshek
Therapeutic Access to the Embryo
Can Therapeutic IVF Be Justified?
Genomic interventions ex utero and in utero are already a reality in medicine. It is plausible to believe that this reality will lead to therapies at the preimplantation level, especially where such interventions are the only safe and effective way to truly prevent human suffering and disease in offspring. The plausibility of this type of genomic therapy is of particular interest for prospective parents who are Roman Catholic, since in vitro fertilization provides the only means by which an offspring’s genome may be accessed prior to implantation. The goal of this essay is to provide a review of two traditional methodologies in Roman Catholic moral thought and the potential moral quandary they present Roman Catholic parents: adherence to moral teaching prohibiting IVF or relief of gene-based disease in their child. After finding little resolution of this quandary through these two methodologies, the essay proposes as an alternative a third approach that leans heavily on John Henry Cardinal Newman’s understanding of doctrinal development. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 11.4 (Winter 2011): 735–756.